Cabernet Franc plays small, important role in Northwest

By on May 28, 2017
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Charlie Auclair checks Cabernet Franc grapes in Artz Vineyard on Red Mountain.

Charlie Auclair of Auclair Winery in Woodinville, Wash., checks the status of Cabernet Franc grapes at Artz Vineyard on Red Mountain. (Photo by Andy Perdue/Great Northwest Wine)

Cabernet Franc is often thought of as sort of a little brother to king Cabernet Sauvignon. Where one is planted, you’ll typically find the other. It’s this way in its native Bordeaux, and it’s this way in Washington state.

One reason for this is because Cabernet Franc typically has gentler tannins, so blending it with Cab can make a wine smoother. In Washington, Cab Franc has the added benefit of being winter hardy, so it can handle the Columbia Valley’s occasional harsh winters better than, say, the more tender Merlot.

We are seeing a lot more Cabernet Franc being bottled as a stand-alone wine, something that we find delightful because the resulting wines are often complex and delicious, revealing classic notes of plum, blackberry and fresh herbs.

In Washington, it remains a minor grape, as just 4,300 tons out of more than 250,000 harvested last fall were Cabernet Franc.

Here are 10 examples of Cabernet Franc from the Pacific Northwest that we’ve tasted in recent weeks. Ask for them at your favorite wine shop or contact the wineries directly.

About Great Northwest Wine

Articles authored by Great Northwest Wine are co-authored by Eric Degerman and Andy Perdue. In most cases, these are wine reviews that are judged blind by the Great Northwest Wine tasting panel.

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